Aussies Take Aim On Augusta


Things are happening fast now for Geoff Ogilvy. Not long ago he became a father for the second time. A week ago Monday he played a practice round at Augusta National, a tournament for which he now finds himself on the short list of favorites.
Seven days later he won the WGC-CA Championship. That victory jumped him seven spots and into the top 10 (No. 10) in the world rankings.
Next week he will join young countrymen Aaron Baddeley and Adam Scott in the field for the Shell Houston Open which, this year, also serves as the final Masters tune-up in the U.S.
Baddeley got up to Augusta for practice rounds Monday and Tuesday. Scott said he was pleased, during his recent visit there, to notice the removal of trees on the right side on No. 11 that now gives players more room off the tee on that hole.
All three are acutely aware that no Australian has ever won the Masters. Only Scott, among the three, has a top 10 at Augusta. Baddeley made his first cut last year after missing the Masters cuts in his first two appearances. Ogilvy was a T16 in 2006 and a T24 last year in his only two Masters. Scott hasnt finished in the top 20 in his last five tries.

Meanwhile it appears neither global warming nor a fierce Georgia drought will affect golf course conditions at Augusta National this year. The azaleas began popping, right on time, last week.
And, according to Masters spokesman Glenn Greenspan, Augusta actually received more rain this winter than last. Unlike Atlanta, which is still under Level 4 watering restrictions, Augusta is at a Level 2 which allows watering three days a week.

How much care does the Masters take to prepare Augusta National for the years first major?
For starters, according to sources, the club has a staff of 30 for the nursery/garden duties alone.
When the seventh and ninth greens had to be re-sodded to accommodate new hole locations, also according to sources in Augusta, the sod was trucked in refrigerated compartments to the golf club. The idea being that the temperature of the new soil had to be exactly right for the new conditions.
Speaking of conditions, Augusta also reportedly uses grow lights'that they often keep on all night long'to enhance the growing conditions on the 12th green which doesnt get as much sunlight because of its location deep in Amen corner.
And finally if you ever get near the golf course in September, right around the time of the perennial rye overseed, you will see a course that looks almost completely brown.
In the past the club has received help from students at the nearby Augusta Technical College, which has a golf course management department. The overseed process, according to sources, is a seven-day, 7 am-7pm process.

Retief Goosens second place finish at the WGC-CA Championship that concluded Monday was a sign that Goosens golf game is on the mend.
But its still somewhat astonishing that Goosen, now ranked No. 26 in the world, is only the fourth-highest ranked South African on that list.
Ernie Els (No. 3), Rory Sabbatini (No. 11) and Trevor Immelman (No. 24) are all above Goosen in the latest Official World Golf Rankings.

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